Guyanese rice researcher Dr Mahendra Persaud receives Anthony N Sabga Award

Dr Mahendra Persaud, Chief Scientist at the Guyana Rice Development Board, holding his Anthony N. Sabga Awards gold medal

Rice researcher Dr Mahendra Persaud was on Saturday bestowed with the prestigious Anthony N Sabga Award and awarded the Guyanese equivalent of TT$500,000 at a gala ceremony in Port of Spain.

The award is in recognition of his contribution to agriculture in Guyana.

The Chief Scientist at the Guyana Rice Development Board was inducted as the 2023 Anthony N. Sabga Awards, Caribbean Excellence Laureate in Science & Technology at the Hilton Trinidad Ballroom before an audience of 200.

“Most importantly for me, I would like to express my gratitude for the farmers who have participated in my research. They have provided me space and assistance, resources to conduct our research, so we can ultimately advance their own lives and those of people around the region,” he remarked.

He added that rice production accounted for over 20% of Guyana’s GDP in 2020.

Dr Persaud, also a recipient of the Golden Arrow of Achievement in 2016, is credited with leading a team of researchers who have developed over a dozen varieties of disease-resistant, high-yield rice well suited to Guyana’s climate, increasing yields from a national average of 4 tonnes per hectare to 6.

He is also leading the development of zinc-fortified rice and exploring the possibility of growing wheat in Guyana. He told the audience: “At this point in time, we are very sure that wheat can grow in Guyana. We still have lots more work to do, but we are very sure.”

His fellow laureates, inducted with him, are Dr Adesh Sirjusingh, Women’s Health doctor from T&T, and Antiguan author Joanne C. Hillhouse.

The Anthony N. Sabga Awards are administered by the philanthropic arm of the ANSA McAL Group and presented annually to Caribbean nationals in the fields of Arts & Letters, Entrepreneurship, Public & Civic Contributions, and Science & Technology. Dr Persaud joins a College of 57 Caribbean Laureates recognised for excellence in human endeavour that uplifts the region.

Last year, Guyanese businessman and environmentalist Shyam Nokta was also bestowed with the award.